June 30, 2017

Lower Body Lift Update! (5 years post-op)

I've been meaning to do this post for, oh, about three years now. Haha! Can you believe it's been five and a half years since my lower body lift?

So, I've been wanting to write a quick update and post some updated photos for anyone that's curious how my scars are looking after over five years. I don't think there is a huge difference in the one-year post-op photos and these new photos, but I guess that's a good thing? I am still absolutely thrilled with the results of my surgery, and I would do it all over again in a heartbeat!

As a reminder, or to those that are newer to my blog, after losing 125 pounds in 2009-2010, I was left with a lot of loose skin. I still have a lot of loose skin on my arms and legs, but the worst was my abdomen. I had to stuff my skin into my pants, which was so annoying!

It was very uncomfortable to exercise in any way with the loose skin. I got rashes under the "apron" of skin on my abdomen whenever I would exercise, and the motion of it bouncing when running was comparable to running without a bra--NOT comfortable, to say the least.

So, I asked my insurance company if a tummy tuck would be covered in any way. I was really surprised that I met the criteria for having them cover a huge portion of the surgery I ended up having! I had to have lost 100 or more pounds; kept it off for at least 6 months; and have a problem with rashes from the loose skin.

I did a lot of research to find a surgeon, and the first consult I went to was with Dr. Donna Tepper in the Henry Ford Health System. I instantly liked her and felt very confident with her, so I didn't even go to any other consults. She was very insistent that I would have much better results with a circumferential tummy tuck (also called lower body lift, or belt lipectomy). Basically, they make an incision that goes all the way around your body, instead of hip to hip like a regular tummy tuck. The remove a "belt" of skin, and then pull up the lower half and pull down the upper half to meet at the pubic line, and then stitch it together.

I had lots of stretch marks--from pregnancy, yes, but also from being so overweight for so long. The stretch marks went all the way up past the bottom of my rib cage, so I knew those wouldn't be removed (the ones in the very low abdomen can be removed with the belt of skin). I was okay with having stretch marks if it meant I wouldn't have a large apron of skin on my belly.

I was terrified of the surgery, but my surgeon was super confident that I would have amazing results, and I really trusted her. My surgery went flawlessly, and I followed her post-op instructions right to the letter. I wasn't allowed to sit up or even recline at all for 10 days--I had to either be standing or lying flat. It was a challenge, but I did it! This was to help make sure that I didn't get any openings in the incision line. I didn't have any complications during recovery, which was awesome.

I documented everything in detail, which you can find on my "Plastic Surgery" page (the tab under the header of my blog). For now, here is a five-year post-op update.

I haven't had any problems whatsoever with the results of the surgery. My scar has faded a lot, and I barely even notice it anymore. For the first year or so, my stomach felt kind of numb and very weird (for lack of a better way to describe it). I hated having my stomach touched in any way, like if my cats walked on it or if Jerry touched it while "cuddling" in bed or something.

Now, it feels almost back to normal. I still have mild numbness around my belly button area and just below the hip bones on my sides. It doesn't bother me to touch it at all, but there is a slight lack of sensation there.

As you all know, my weight fluctuates a lot--since surgery, my weight has been as low as 121 pounds and as high as 160 pounds. When I gain weight, I do gain in my stomach--the fat accumulates on each side of and on the top of my belly button. I also get love handles on my sides--those are the first to appear and the last to go when my weight fluctuates.

The only part of my surgery that I would say that I wish was different is that I don't accumulate any fat around my incision line. That may sound like a good thing, but when I gain weight, I gain above the incision line and below, which leaves an indentation where the scar line is. When I'm at around 125-130 pounds, my silhouette is pretty smooth. But any higher than that, and there is an indentation around my hips.

Because of this, I have a hard time finding jeans that fit properly! I like low-rise jeans, but I have a very small butt, and no real hips to hold them up. So, I constantly have to tug at them to keep them from falling down. I don't have this problem with mid-rise jeans, so I prefer those.

I really wish that I didn't have the loose skin on my thighs and arms (my thighs are terrible), but for now, the scar wouldn't be worth it to me. Also, the thigh surgery is very complicated; everyone I know who has had it said it was very difficult to recover from. In the future, however, I may have the surgery because the skin on the insides of my knees rubs together when I walk, and it's getting worse as I get older.

My arms don't look great, either, but again--I don't hate them enough to have the surgery. Here is a photo of me holding Luke, and all I could focus on was the stretch marks and odd looking loose skin.

There is one pretty embarrassing issue with my arms, too! You know how people (pre-teen boys, mostly) make fart noises by cupping their hands under their armpits and lowering their arms quickly? Once in a while, my arm pits make that noise out of nowhere when I just lower my arm quickly! It only happens when I'm wearing a very loose shirt, and I don't think anyone has ever noticed it. But it always surprises me when it happens. Just an odd random tidbit to share, haha.

Anyway, on to the pictures! Since that is probably the only reason you are reading this post ;)  As a refresher, here are a few that led up to today's:

"Before" pictures--you can clearly see in the pic of me bending over all of the loose skin and where my abdomen "should" be.

These are some from the early stages post-op:

I had to wear a compression garment for six weeks

I believe this was on Day 2 post-op. My belly button was still packed with gauze.

This is the incision line across my back (obviously right above my butt). I like that she did the incision very low, so that it doesn't show at all when I wear panties.

I believe these ones were about two weeks post-op. The incision was looking cleaner, but I was very swollen:

And then here are today's photos. My skin looks much better without a camera flash, haha. The above photos were taken with a camera instead of a smart phone (I didn't have a phone yet). And the flash from the camera made my stretch marks stand out big time!

(I was tempted to put a filter on them to make my skin look nicer! But, I don't like using filters because I feel like it's "cheating" or something. So all of these are unfiltered.)

My scar is barely noticeable! Again, I love that the scar is so low that you can't see it at all when wearing panties (I pulled these ones down low so you can see the scar).

This is what I mean when I say that there is no fat that accumulates on my scar line. (Again, I pulled the undies down low so you could see the scar). See how the scar indents a little, giving me the appearance of love handles? But it's still a good trade-off!

So, as you can see, my surgery is holding up well! I am SO glad that I had the surgery when I did, because it makes me feel confident and happy with my body. Also, it's MUCH more comfortable than the loose skin! If anyone is considering it, I would definitely recommend it :)  Here are all of the info and details that I wrote about before and after the surgery.


  1. That looks so painful. I am so glad you had a successful surgery!

  2. You have been doing great....you should be so satisfied with all the results. Also, I don't see any baggy skin around the thighs....you should see mine and I have never been 250! ha!

  3. Wow, this is amazing. I'm so glad that the surgery went so well for you. I have to say, with the most recent pictures, I'm not sure I can see the scar at all on your front side - what I think must be the scar just sort of looks like a "crease" in your hip joint to me. The scar on your back side is a little more visible, but certainly not glaring. I also don't really see at all what you mean about the "love handles" around the scar. Heck, I have a little indentation around my hip/stomach area just from wearing underwear in those areas all my life!

  4. Wow, has it really been that long? Hard to believe, I remember when you were talking on the blog about getting it done & talking about it afterwards as well. It looks like you have healed really well from it :)

  5. I'm terrified of surgeries -- but you look like you healed SO WELL! That had to be a long road to recovery!

  6. Thanks for sharing, Katie! It's hard to believe it was already that long ago... And - all I see in that photo at the top is an adorable little boy with his happy, proud auntie!!

  7. Congrats on five years post-op! I think I've been reading your blog for about 3 1/2 years or so, and you always inspire me!

  8. Wow, Katie I can't believe it's been that long already!!! You have healed so nicely and yeah, you can barely see the scars. Obviously everything is about personal preference and being comfortable but I don't think the indenting from the scars looks bad in fact I think it gives you more of an hourglass shape. But, if it's uncomfortable for you, especially if you're constantly pulling your shorts/pants up, then I can see why it's annoying. As always, I'm so grateful that you're so open and willing to share with us. Your experiences are very uplifting and educational for us readers. I'm sure it's not always easy but there are a lot of us who are just really thankful :)

  9. wow, you look great!!!!

  10. Thank you for documenting your journey, Katie! Your blog was recommended to me by Dr. Tepper, actually! She will be doing my circumferential body lift on November 6th. It has been so helpful and nerve-calming for me to be able to read this part of your blog. Your results were fantastic, by the way! Did you get the auto-augmentation of your butt? I'm still trying to decide on that!


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